Consumer Cellular has exited from Best Buy. The move comes just one year after Consumer Cellular first appeared in Best Buy stores. Industry analyst Wave7 Research observed the withdrawal over the last month and noted the change in a report the firm recently sent to its subscribers.
In February of 2018, Consumer Cellular reported that it had 2.75 million subscribers. In October of 2018, the company reported that it had reached 3 million subscribers. That represents a growth rate of 31,250 subscribers per month. Consumer Cellular first made an appearance in Best Buy stores in July of 2018. Last month, the company stated in a blog post that it had reached 3.5 million customers. Looking at the change from October 2018 to August 2019, the company grew at a rate of 50,000 subscribers per month. That massive growth rate change compared to the previous period corresponds well with the MVNO's entry into Best Buy stores.
Consumer Cellular's exit from Best Buy will likely lead to a slowdown of the 50k/subs a month growth rate. However, all will not be lost. There are other factors that may have also helped to influence that growth rate and should continue to help Consumer Cellular grow moving forward, albeit at a slower pace.
Earlier this year, Sprint exited from Target stores. Consumer Cellular got to take over Sprint's displays in those stores giving the brand a much more pronounced presence there. In November of last year, Consumer Cellular improved its wireless plans with some plans getting triple and one even quadruple the amount of data they previously contained. However, pricing still lags behind the industry's best-valued plans. Consumer Cellular has also run numerous promotions including one that is currently active that gives new subscribers one free month of unlimited talk and text with 20GB of LTE data. The company has repeatedly won various awards throughout the years, including one just issued last month from JD Power. All these factors combined have helped and should help to continue to fuel Consumer Cellular's growth moving forward.
The reason why Consumer Cellular has been removed from Best Buy is not entirely clear. However, there is a strong probability it had to do with Best Buy's acquisition of GreatCall Inc in August of last year for $800 million. GreatCall and Consumer Cellular both target the same audience, aging Americans. Besides phone plans, GreatCall sells medical alert devices and offers family caregiver support solutions, markets that Consumer Cellular says that it would like to expand into. So, having both brands sold in the same store wouldn't seem like the best way for Best Buy to maximize the growth potential of its recent acquisition.